ESL Teacher Certification in Pennsylvania

Jan 02, 2019

ESL teachers help migrant learners develop their English skills, so they can more fully take part in American society. Budding ESL teachers in Pennsylvania must undergo education, training and testing stages to qualify for ESL teacher licensure.

In recent decades, there has been a substantial increase in migration to the United States which has resulted in ever-growing numbers of English Language Learners (ELLs) settling in the country. English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers play a vitally important role in enabling ELLs to integrate into American society by teaching them how to better communicate with their new compatriots. Here, you will learn about the specific education, training and testing steps to qualify for ESL teaching certification in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania ESL Teacher Certification Requirements

Average Salary for Teachers in Pennsylvania (2017)* $65,370 (Elementary), $65,270 (Middle), $66,020 (Secondary)
Required Degree Bachelor's degree
Degree Field Education
Testing Requirements Pre-service Academic Performance Assessment (PAPA) or Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators (basic skills), Praxis subject area test for the level I teaching certificate

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Earn a Degree

The minimum education requirement for prospective ESL teachers in Pennsylvania is a bachelor's degree from an accredited university or college and a state-approved teacher education program which is usually taken as part of a bachelor's program. Candidates who are set on teaching ESL should ideally choose a program which incorporates ESL courses which can include classes related to the following topics:

  • Teaching English as a Second Language (ESL)
  • Linguistics
  • Language and culture
  • Structure and sound of English
  • English language grammar
  • Language acquisition

Teachers who have an existing teaching license can add the ESL endorsement by completing an approved ESL certification program. These programs can involve taking as little as 15 credit hours and completing field experience. The number of required practical classroom experience hours will depend on the specific approved program.

Step 2: Pass all Required Testing

ESL teacher candidates must undertake the basic teaching skills tests, as stipulated by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), in order to qualify for an initial teacher certificate. There are two basic skills testing options that are acceptable to the PDE. Candidates can sit the Pre-service Academic Performance Assessment (PAPA) which is set out in the following format:

  • Reading: 36 selected-response items (pass score - 220)
  • Mathematics: 36 selected-response items (pass score - 193)
  • Writing: 36 selected-response items, 2 sentence correction assignments, and 1 extended-response assignment (pass score - 220)

Alternatively, candidates may take the three Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators tests which are described as follows:

  • Core Academic Skills for Educators: Reading (code: 5712, pass score - 156)
  • Core Academic Skills for Educators: Writing (code: 5722, pass score - 162)
  • Core Academic Skills for Educators: Mathematics (code: 5732, pass score - 142)

Teacher candidates must then take an appropriate Praxis subject area test. There is no ESL subject area test and ESL can only be added as an endorsement once candidates have been awarded their level I teaching certificate.

Step 3: Apply for Initial Pennsylvania Teaching Certification and ESL Endorsement

When teacher candidates successfully complete the education and testing steps, they are ready to make an application for their initial teacher certificate (level I teaching certification). In Pennsylvania, applications must be submitted electronically using the Teaching Information Management System (TIMS). When an application is accepted, the successful candidate can download and print out their initial teacher certificate.

Once a candidate has been awarded their level I teaching certification they can then apply for the ESL endorsement if they have completed the required ESL academic coursework. The endorsement application should include a letter from the institution where the candidate completed their ESL coursework that verifies they have completed all the necessary ESL program requirements.

Pennsylvania ESL Certification Resources

ESL teacher candidates in Pennsylvania can follow the links below to access our study guides which will help them prepare for their certification exams:

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